Statement of Senator Lamar Alexander on Defense Authorization Bill

Posted on November 12, 2003

Today the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Bill (conference report) by a vote of 95 to 3.

The bill included provisions to:

  • Authorize up to $401.3 billion for the defense budget;
  • Raise military pay 3.7 percent for all uniformed service personnel;
  • Provide for concurrent receipt of military retirement pay and veterans disability benefits for those with 50 percent disability or more (phased in over 10 years);
  • Continuing payment of the family separation allowance ($250/month during deployment);
  • Create a pilot program to extend TRICARE to reservists and their families;
  • Extend medical and dental coverage to reservists and their families upon notification of activation; and
  • Expedite the naturalization process for non-citizens who serve in the U.S. military for at least one year.

"This bill takes an important step forward in treating our veterans fairly," Alexander said. "For too long, disabled veterans have been denied benefits that every other federal employee receives: retirement compensation and disability compensation. This bill also includes a number of provisions to help military families during these difficult times, including an increase in overall pay, continuing the $250 per month family separation allowance, and extending health coverage."